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National Film Preservation Board

Frequently Asked Questions About the National Film Registry

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What is the National Film Registry?
It is a list of films deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” that are earmarked for preservation by the Library of Congress. These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture. They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.

How many films are on the National Film Registry?
There are currently 625 film titles included on the National Film Registry. Another 25 will be added in December.

What’s the oldest movie on the Registry?
A film fragment called “The Newark Athlete” made in 1891 is the oldest title on the Registry. It runs just a few seconds in length.

What’s the newest?
A documentary titled “Decasia,” produced in 2002, is the newest film on the Registry.

Who set up the National Film Registry and why?
Congress passed a bill that “prohibits any person from knowingly distributing or exhibiting to the public a film that has been materially altered, or a black and white film that has been colorized and is included in the Registry, unless such films are labeled disclosing specified information.” 

Who selects the films on the Registry?
The Librarian of Congress makes the annual selections to the Registry after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB).

Can the public participate?
Absolutely! In fact you’re encouraged to submit your nominations each year. The deadline for 2014 nominations is Friday, September 12. Click here to learn more.

Do many people nominate films to the Registry?
We received more than 2,000 public nominations for the 2013 Registry, representing nearly 3,500 discrete titles for a total of 7,300 public votes.

How do I know if a film is on the Registry?
Our website features several thousand titles not yet named to the Registry. There are doubtless hundreds, maybe even thousands more. Email additions to Donna Ross at

Have all of the Registry films been preserved?
The National Film Registry of the Library of Congress works with the studios, independent filmmakers, other archives, museums and historical societies to secure the best available film elements of each Registry title. These elements are conserved under the best possible physical conditions i.e. low temperature and low humidity at the Library. In some cases, the films have already been preserved by a studio, filmmaker or archive.

Does the Library of Congress own the films on the Registry?

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( August 20, 2014 )
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